I have something to say about being this So Called Mom.
When we become mothers, it feels like it is this monstrous thing that steps into your shoes, without your being ready, and takes up ALL THE SPACE. Like, toes crammed to the end; and all you can do is watch your precious Manolos split at the seams as you drift farther away from what you once were, into the abyss of “just a mom”. When this happens, you can forget about your career, forget about being creative, forget about your friends and forget about yourself: Both who you were and who you wanted to be. Because you are now officially one thing and one thing only: A mom. Right? Women first.
Don’t get me wrong, I love motherhood.
But if you think this here woman has given it all up just to be that one thing, you’re highly mistaken. I have already shaken my fists at the sky over this. Motherhood should not be the decision we make that wipes out our hopes and dreams. It is not the Hurricane Katrina of choices. Becoming a mom doesn’t need to devastate the rest of you. But when you have that first kid, I swear, the rest of the world knows it. Just look at your mail: Cosmopolitan and Vogue traded itself for Martha Stewart and Parenting. You also started getting Land’s End catalogues without ordering them, didn’t you? We don’t need to be polite about this. Mom’s only look like the Virgin Mary because we allow ourselves to. Motherhood doesn’t mean trading in your sexiness for a closet full of sweater sets and necklaces made of pasta. I confess I have a few of those necklaces in my jewelry box, but I do feel like feeding them to the dog from time to time, just to get a piece of myself back.
I specifically remember my first experience of becoming “Just a mom” after I had my first batch of kids early. I was 22 when I had Jake, 24 with Milla and 26 with MJ. Timely, I know.
I recall being in a bar shortly after popping those three kids out, toasting with a few girlfriends, some who were new moms, others who were not. A guy (I wouldn’t dare refer to him as a man) approached me and asked to buy me a drink. I let him. We were talking and he was getting pretty serious, so I did what any mom would do…and talk to a guy in a bar about kids.
“Wait. Whoa. You’re a MOM?”
He snatched the drink from my hand.
“You should be home. Why are you even out?”
I felt like a birthday candle being doused with a pan of water. And it has resonated with me for decades.
When I became a mom, I un-became a woman. Women first.
I un-became a dancer. I un-became a dreamer, a creative and unstoppable female with big ideas. I un-became everything I knew to be truly me. I was no longer a pretty girl with fresh young breasts in the fruit section at the grocery store, hip with her eco-conscious canvas bag. I was the basket case in sweats chasing my toddlers down the cereal aisle, with REAL grocery bags—under my eyes. I drove a brand new minivan with vanity plates: 1 GR8 MOM and accepted this as my destiny.
I was also on my second marriage. And it wasn’t holding my attention, no matter how hard I tried to play the part. For a few more years, I wore the sweater sets and the pasta necklaces and pretended it was everything I wanted. Pretended that was the real me. I was always biting my tongue off at PTA meetings and kids birthday parties, careful to not be myself too much. Because the real me, wasn’t very mom-like at all. The real me jumped off the roof of a houseboat naked at a party. The real me did shots and stayed out late with my girlfriends, dancing to Missy Elliot on repeat until we fell asleep in the living room. The real me wore funky clothes and slept in and binge watched shows that I now could only live vicariously through. Sex in the City. The Sopranos. Desperate Housewives. Even Friends. I took dance lessons back then. I was serious about it. I was good enough to be on stage in a tutu, the lead. Now I was just wearing tutus to run errands, just to make myself feel better.
Having kids nailed me down. I made a promise to them.
“I will always be there for you.” I whispered to Jake, tiny and trembling in my arms. I repeated the same thing to each kid on the day they were born. But it was years before I realized that my interpretation of what it meant to “be there” for them did not mean putting myself last, giving up on who I was, or trading my self worth for theirs. I realized that I greatly limited my philosophy as a mom. That there could NEVER EVER be any cross over with who I was and being a mom. That if there was a license to parenthood, that mine would get revoked.
Then I met my third husband, after fleeing New York and moving across the country to Portland, Oregon—truly a place where the wild things are! His name was Pippin, like the musical, and it instantly called a part of me out that I was sure I buried long ago. The dancer, the singer, the stage act in me was set free through his name alone and he went along with it. Our second date was at a playground with the kids. BOTH his and mine. We had five kids under the age of six, running around us like a solar system and it all just felt right. Chaotic, messy, and right.
Pippin not only redefined parenthood for me, but he redefined life for me.
He loved the ME that he met— I was a whack job; completely off the rails. But only because I was working hard at re-establishing myself as a woman first, and a mom second. I think he was greatly worried at the beginning. But he stepped into the role anyway and filled those shoes like no other. And there was still plenty of room for more. More more more. More me, more him, more kids. And we did have more kids; two to be exact. Even with everyone looking down their noses at us. We were called “irresponsible.” He never said no to me. He was the first person who made me feel like I should really be myself. It was like the sky opened up and said, “Yes. Shave your head. Rent that Porsche. Dance in the street. Let them all watch you.” And I would turn to Pippin who would smile back at me and have this “Well what are we waiting for?” look on his face. He was the perfect mirror and he reflected a life that I was searching for. And now we’ve been together for ten years. And it still feels like we just met. Women first.
This blog is a resurrection of womanhood. Women first.
Its a shout out to all the ladies: single, married, divorced, remarried—to step moms, biological moms, adoptive moms and everything in between. It’s a call for us to return to our hopes and dreams. Do you recall what you dreamed of when you wanted to be a mother or wife? Was it perching on your child’s shoulder when they did homework? Was it soccer on Tuesdays and Thursdays, games on Saturdays all over the county? Was it late nights of science projects that are more your projects than his/hers? Was it throwing your life away to live it through your child? I say no to all the above. Women first.
This So Called Mom is making an intentional call out to other women. Within these words, you’ll find me raising a glass to those of us thinking about motherhood for the first time, those of us expecting, and those of us who already have our hands full. When we become mothers, it seems like everything else fades to black. Everything that once filled your life: Your friends, the fun —or the way you had fun, the odd hours, the choice—all of it goes away because our culture asks us to become that one thing: A mom and that’s defined in one way.
But not here.
When did we surrender being physically fit and wear ONLY yoga pants because they’re stretchy (Not to mention UGG boots in any color, which my husband calls birth control)? Or pretend to enjoy ourselves in bed with our husbands when we would rather be scrolling on our phones? When was the last time you laughed so hard you almost peed your pants or did something JUST for you, to get on with your wild self? Women first.
This blog is about being real. A real mom. Here, we are women first, moms second.
So Called Mom.
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